The community of Onion Lake Cree Nation came together for a grand opening for its newest RCMP detachment last month. About 175 people came to help christen the new detachment building, placed beside the indigenous community’s old detachment.
The ceremony included a raising of the detachment flags, a dignitaries address, a community address from the detachment commander, a ribbon cutting, and a serving of cake and refreshments. Notable figures present include “F” Division Commanding Officer Mark Fisher, Chief Henry Lewis, MLA Colleen Young and a representative from MP Rosemarie Falk’s office.
An elder, traditional singers and drummers assisted the parade of RCMP members, who were accompanied by the community cadet corps. members from Chief Taylor Elementary School. Tours of the new detachment were offered alongside a Mountie photo booth. Also present were students from Kihew Waciston Cree Immersion School, who sang the national anthem in their native language.
The new detachment is the RCMP’s fifth detachment in Onion Lake. Mounties have been operating in the new building since February of 2018. The previous detachment building was outgrown by Onion Lake’s RCMP members. Laili Yazdani, Community Program Officer with the Onion Lake RCMP, says this new detachment will help the community’s police force grow.
“We were previously operating in a small building that was originally constructed as living quarters, that was built in the late 1950s,” says Yazdani. “We outgrew this old building, and the new detachment allows for (the) growth of personnel with ample working space.”
The new building features a seven cell block area, a secure loading area, modern work stations, an exercise room, a board room and a victim services suite. The detachment also aims to be more welcoming; victim services are now more accessible with a private entrance, and now has a space for meeting with community partners. The detachment has given multiple tours to date to student service providers, elders and more, and will continue to give more. Yazdani believes this serves a greater purpose of connecting community members with the RCMP.
“All of these initiatives I think contribute towards building relationships with the community, and increasing public knowledge of community policing.”
Yazdani says many members of the public have come to check out the new detachment, and are excited to see it. Last summer, the newly elected chief and council also came for a tour after the election.